Price ceiling for medicinal drugs cannot be fixed this year

The maximum price at which medical drugs can be sold will not be fixed before the end of this year, Health Minister Ahmed Naseem has said.

The government has always said the state's biggest expenditure under the social security structure is to ensure health services to the people through the Aasandha system. The government had earlier said it would fix the maximum selling price of medicines this year to prevent pharmacies from taking high profits from the drug business.

with AVAS, Health Minister Naseem said private companies importing medicines should also be given the opportunity to run their businesses. He said there are many things to consider before implementing such a change, adding that setting a maximum price for medicines could harm business.

"Private importers should have the opportunity to do business. The government has to maintain the quality of imported drugs. Due to such factors, the maximum selling price of drugs has not been fixed," he said.

Naseem said that although the maximum price for medical drugs is not fixed this year, it would be decided at some point in the near future. The minister believes that the easiest way to do that is to set a maximum selling price for drugs issued under Aasandha and enforce it.

"The main idea is that I don't believe the drugs brought to the private sector should be brought by the government or STO. Different drugs should be imported to the Maldives. Different qualities of drugs should be available. Some are more expensive drugs, so they cannot be sold for low prices. Therefore, a maximum price can be fixed for the drugs issued under Aasandha," Naseem said.

The minister also spoke about the complaints of some people about the lack of availability of some medicines in the Maldives. He said some of the drugs prescribed by doctors are not available in pharmacies because there are many different brands of the same medication. Doctors should explain such issues to patients, he said.

The lack of information and awareness about medicines is also a major problem that needs to be addressed, the minister said.

"The doctor prescribes Panadol on the prescription, and when you go to STO to fill the prescription, STO has a different brand of Panadol under a different name. At that point, we decide that the pharmacy does not have the required medicine. The Panadol brand imported by STO may not be the same as the brand prescribed by the doctor, but it may also be used for the same treatment. Doctors have to explain to the people that even if the brand is different, it is also a Panadol," Naseem said.